A little something I thought of today, courtesy of a rather spirited elderly woman with some passionate political opinions.
Thunder and Water
Perun had come to the gate of an ancient city, desolate and forsaken. To most travellers, this would be a sure sign that they had veered from the path and should immediately rectify the situation. Perun, however, was not most travellers.
“Devil’s Rest, the last stand of the Deathless Army,” the young wanderer muttered too himself. “Ironic, that the ‘deathless’ met their ultimate fate in such an ignoble manner.”
“Ah, a fellow history buff. Amazing, the people you meet in the middle of nowhere.”
Perun turned to find the source of the voice: a black-haired man nearly two decades his senior, leaning on a halberd and carrying two swords at his hip.
“Who are you?” Perun asked, scanning the man.
The man was dressed in all black, from his weather-worn travelling robe to his freshly made boots. On his hands were four rings, each one magical, as far as Perun could tell. Around his neck were a couple of necklaces, humble in appearance but each with a beautifully crafted amulet at the end. The most extravagant part of his appearance was also the most telling: a masterfully made breastplate, polished to a silvery luster.
“A man of no consequence, I assure you. In all likelihood, history will not remember me,” the man replied, a lopsided grin adorning his black bearded jaw. “May I ask who you are?”
“A man with no name,” Perun retorted, his brilliant yellow eyes meeting his fellow traveller’s own deep blues.
Or rather, just one deep blue–the man had a single functioning eye in his head. The other eye had been replaced by a eerily realistic stone replica.
“A clever one, aren’t you? Well, I can hardly fault you for being cautious. Apostates aren’t often well received these days.”
“How did you know that!?” Perun demanded, unnerved by this stranger’s perceptive abilities. “Why are you here!?”
“I know a thing or two, and you just ooze apostate magic from every pore,” the stone-eyed man laughed. “But I’m here for a completely unrelated reason. I’m seeking an ancient artifact, and as soon as I find it, I’ll be on my way. How about yourself? What brings you to this stretch of land?”
Perun could feel that something was abnormal about this man. He did not buy his story, and clearly he was no simple wanderer. Perun’s hands started sparking with magical energy.
“I am here for answers, I suppose you could say,” Perun enigmatically confessed.
“Vague, but I won’t press the issue. You are clearly under a great deal of stress,” the man observed, his grin never fading. “Well, since we’re headed in the same direction, why not help each other out? You lend me your eyes, so it’s easier to see the artifact, and I lend you my knowledge and experience, so you can find your answers. What do you say?”
“Liar!” Perun screamed, lightning erupting from his hands. “You’re hunting me, aren’t you!? You’re working for those sadists at the lab, aren’t you!?”
“Oh, dear. I’m afraid you couldn’t be further from the truth. I have something of a dispute with them, myself. We’re not exactly buddies, if you catch my meaning.”
“I don’t believe you!” Perun screamed, launching a bolt of lightning at the man, only to have him sidestep it like it was nothing. “Who are you?”
“Simply a traveller, seeking a trinket of days past,” the man said, amused. “You should work on that temper. It’ll get you into trouble.”
Perun fired off another, more powerful blast, only to have the man evade it just as easily as he had before.
“Need to work on that aim, too,” the man pondered.
Perun rushed forward, charging his body with lightning magic. He unleashed a flurry of blows upon his opponent, but the dauntless man evaded every single one. In a desperate attempt to claim victory, Perun tried to grab the man, only to have his arms thrust aside by a well timed deflection.
“Calm down. I’m not here to attack you,” the man assured him, his face showing concern.
Perun doubled down on his efforts, only to meet with the same results. Charging up one final punch, he punched with all his might. In his amazement, not only did the man catch his fist mid-punch, he also managed to squelch the electricity coursing through it. Perun could do nothing stand there in shock, his mouth agape.
“Listen, kid. You’ve got some serious power, but you have no idea how to use it. Find a master, learn to control your power, and learn to control your temper while you’re at it. Now, I understand if you’d rather not travel with me after all this, so, if it’s cool with you, I’ll come back later. My business isn’t that urgent, so I’ll let you find your answers.”
Perun was still paralyzed as the man walked away. When he finally recovered, he raced to catch up to the man.
“Hold up! Hey, wait!” Perun demanded, but the man continued his march. “Please!”
“Ah, the magic word. I suppose I have to stop now. What’s up?”
“Can you. . .can you help me? Find answers, I mean.”
“Certainly, as long as you help me find that artifact.”
“Of course. A fair deal.”
“Excellent. Let’s try that introduction again. I’m Tom, nice to meet you,” the man declared, smiling even wider than before.